Harness pressure mapping and the development of technology for animal traction: a contribution for the welfare and performance of working donkeys

Status
Status: 
Ongoing
Collaborators
Researchers
Details
Location: 
Escola Superior Agrária de Bragança (ESA-IPB)
Country: 
Portugal
Core methodology: 
Different harness systems will be tested, controlling variables that can influence the results, such as draft work when performing different tasks, load displaced, balance of the load, etc. The force and pressure distribution beneath the working harness will be assessed, through the use of the CONFORMat (or similar) pressure mapping tool (Tekscan®). Pressure mapping tools have been used to investigate the relationship between contact surfaces in terms of pressure distribution and magnitude. In this study, the CONFORMat will be used to measure and illustrate visually the pressure effects at the contact interfaces between the components of the harness and the working donkeys’ body surface. Data will be collected from firstly static donkeys and then donkeys in motion.
Aims: 
This research will allow the development of easily transportable kit that allows to evaluate in situ any harness system used in donkeys worldwide, assessing its effectiveness and welfare of the animals, allowing to promote changes based on evidence based scientific knowledge.
Objectives: 
To test existing models and/or contribute to the development of better and more adapted harness system for working donkeys, by assessing the force and pressure distribution beneath the working harness, while monitoring the general health and welfare of the animals.